Many Americans Target of Online Harassment, Pew Research Shows

A Pew Research Center study reveals that 41 percent of Americans have been the target of harassing behavior online, up only slightly from the former study in 2014. The Pew study defines online harassment through six behaviors from least severe to most severe: offensive name-calling, purposeful embarrassment, stalking, physical threats, harassment over a sustained period of time, and sexual harassment. Respondents who indicated experiencing any of these online behaviors were considered targets of online harassment.

Among adults age 18 to 29, women were more than twice as likely as men to report experiencing sexual harassment online (21 percent of women vs. 9 percent of men). And among the youngest adults age 18 to 24, women were more than three times as likely to be sexually harassed online (20 percent of women vs. 6 percent of men). Those who indicated more severe forms of abuse online noted that they had also experienced more offline consequences such as emotional stress (45 percent), problems with family relationships (24 percent), damage to reputation (25 percent), and issues with romantic relationships (18 percent).

This study should make it clear that what we do and say online can negatively affect others in the real world as well.

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